We learned that Mardi Gras means Fat Tuesday, that it is the day before Ash Wednesday and the season leading up to Mardi Gras is Carnival (which is from the Latin word carne vale – carne means meat, vale means to remove.) The colors of Mardi Gras are purple – justice, green – faith and gold – power. The King cake is a cinnamon bread with icing and colored sprinkles with a baby Jesus baked into it, the person who gets the baby has good luck for the year and has to bring a King cake the next year. Krewes are groups that work together on floats, they usually have a theme and they elect a Rex – King and a Queen for their floats. In Cajun country, people dressed for Mardi Gras ride to neighbors houses and put on a show in exchange for coins and beads. Mardi Gras and Carnival is a time for balls, masks, beads, parties and parades, all fun and games before Lent begins.
Before we read about Mardi Gras, I showed some pictures from Manitou’s 2012 Mardi Gras parade. Then we read about how the festival got started (the French brought it to LA in the 1600′s, Spanish countries celebrated Carnival, the time after Three Kings Day, and also celebrated Shrove Tuesday before Lent.)
I threw beads and everyone got a mask, then we had King cake. I had the Internet radio tuned to Cajun Mardi Gras, it was very upbeat.
Since we’re a month out from the real Mardi Gras (March 4th) I made a cake from cinnamon rolls, it turned out pretty good. I iced it with vanilla icing and sprinkles. The next part was the fun part, the kids got to make shoebox floats. I didn’t have enough boxes for one per kid, so siblings and friends collaborated (I like to call that ‘learning to value others opinions’) to create these awesome floats.
(Although some kids did get their own shoebox.)
Obviously this one is Grace’s .
This one was voted the slowest float (because it’s a turtle, a ‘box’ turtle…get it?)
The parade start.
The float that is being held up was a hover float….just so you know.
Some floats also made good masks (and hats.)
Before we left I checked to make sure the kids knew some things like: what was Mardi Gras, when is it celebrated, why is it celebrated, what is the season before and after it, what are the colors and what do they stand for and why is there a baby Jesus in the cake. They did great, before we started the kids really had no idea what this was, they thought it had something to do with eating a lot of food on Fat Tuesday and having a parade. I think everyone wants to go to the Manitou Mardi Gras now (if you do, it’s March 1st about 1pm.) Most of all, everyone had fun and it wasn’t too chaotic with 20 kids in the room!